My thoughts on the Liverpool victory

Before the Liverpool game it seemed everyone had forgot about Spurs. Aston Villa, Everton and Moneybags City were the teams tipped to break the top four whilst Spurs slipped back into the “mid-table obscurity” pack. Even the fans seemed to have slightly more realistic hopes this season; instead of “Lets get in the Champions League” the more common ambition was “Lets get in the Europa League”.

Three points over Liverpool in our first game of the season seems to have changed all that. One Assou-Ekotto thunderbolt and Bassong header later and suddenly everyone is talking about the top four again. Of course, it’s far too early to get swept along in that sort of nosense, but the Liverpool game was very encouraging and I’ll take a look why here.

Seb Bassong- A steal at £8 million

Now anyone who’s delved into this blogs archieves will know I didn’t want Bassong at the club, so I won’t bother pretending I did. I couldn’t see the sense in signing him when we could have been chasing players like Turner and Shawcross. Well Harry I’ve learnt my lesson- I’ll never write of one of your signings again. Bassong looked confident and assured in our defence and his partnership with Ledley King looked years old, not one match old. He was comfortable on the ball and, along with King, had Fernando Torres in his pocket all afternoon. Out of all of our summer signings, I’m glad it was Bassong who made the biggest impression as he’ll be incredibly important to us over the next few weeks. Ledley King can still only play one game a week and with the team playing Hull tomorrow, travelling without King, Woodgate and Dawson, Bassong’s involvement will be crucial. If he plays anything like he did at the weekend though, we’ll be fine.

Sergeant Palacios moves up a rank

I’m starting to believe the acquisition of Sergeant Palacios is one of the best signings we’ve ever made. Up there with the signings of Ardilles and Villa, Jurgan Klinsman and Dimitar Berbatov. Palacios is just immense and just what we’ve been missing from our midfield for the last few years. We’ve got some talented midfielders, Modric, Huddlestone and Jermaine Jenas for example, but we had no-one in the mould of Palacios. We hadn’t got a ball winner, a rugged centre midfielder. Of course, over the course of last season, Palacios showed us he’s a great defensive midfielder but in this game he also displayed his attacking qualities. He gave Liverpool some real problems when he burst forwards and the Liverpool midfield simply couldn’t cope with him. He’s a wonderful player is Palacios, and we’ll need him firing on all cylinders if we are to get any success this season.

Modric is the key

Alongside Palacios, I feel Modric is one of our most important players. Quick, agile, tenacious and blessed with a mind capable of reading Premiership football, Modric has become one of the league’s best midfielders. Before the season kicked of, Harry Redknapp called Modric “one of the best footballers in the world”. Whilst I wouldn’t quite say Modric is there yet, he could definitely become one of the best if he keeps up his current form. He wasn’t as good as he can be against Liverpool, but he was still easily one of the best players on the pitch and crossed beautifully for Bassong to head in the winner. Keeping him fit will be a big job for Harry, whilst Modric isn’t an injury-prone player his small size will make him a prime target for kickings and fouls. Another task for Harry is keeping him at the club. I pray that he won’t become another Berbatov, flourishing at the Lane and then shipped out for a tidy profit. If chairman Daniel Levy is serious about breaking the top four, he needs to let Redknapp keep our best players. However I don’t foresee Modric being as bigger problem as Berbatov- Berbatov was constantly on the lookout to a bigger club whilst Modric seems content at the Lane.

A strikeforce to be reckoned with

We used all four of our strikers in the game, even if Pavlyuchenko only did play for two minutes. Redknapp started with Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane upfront, and it was the latter who had all the chances. Defoe seemed a tad quiet but will hopefully sharpen up when he gets more games under his belt. Keane had a hatful of chances and I can’t believe he didn’t convert at least one. I definitely feel he has lost a bit of his goalscoring ability since his infamous stint at Anfield. Then again, it might just be a confidence thing. Either way we need him to start scoring again as we miss his goals. Peter Crouch came on for Keane and was kept quiet, it will be interesting to see whether he starts against Hull. I personally think a 4-3-3 formation would work quite well, with Crouch and Defoe upfront with Keane “in the hole” behind them. Whatever Harry plays though, it’s not looking too promising for Roman Pavlyuchenko who looks destined to become the reserve striker. Hopefully Pav will get a chance as I think he’s a great player, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves at the end of the season.

Harry: “We’ll add if we can”

Our overall performance in the game was good, but there are areas in which we can improve. That’s why Redknapp saying “I’ll add to the squad if I can” is particularly pleasing. Whilst many Spurs fans don’t agree with me, I’ve always thought Luka Modric is better playing in the middle and that he is wasted out on the left. So I was pleased to see that we are being linked with Manchester Cities Martin Petrov- a left winger. His signing would allow us to play Modric in the middle with Palacios, giving us some creativity in the middle. To fund his move we are reportedly in talks with Villa to sell both David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas, for a combined total of £15 million. I wasn’t so happy about this rumour. I still think JJ could do a job for us and we’ve not yet seen the best of Bentley. And if we were to sell them both, I’d expect a lot more than a combined total  of £15 million. £10 for JJ and £12 for Bentley is more reasonable surely?

Player Ratings:

Heurelho Gomes: 5.5. He didn’t have a lot to do but needlessly conceded a penalty. Johnson looked like he had ran the ball out but Gomes still came for it and up-ended him. Apart from that he was very quiet but looked assured when coming to claim Liverpool crosses.

Vedran Corluka: 7. Looked comfortable throughout. It seems Harry prefers playing Corluka at right back to Hutton, and it’s not hard to see why. Corluka is ultra reliable whereas Hutton is prone to lapses in concentration.

Seb Bassong: 8. Had a great partnership with Ledley King and scored the match winner with a thumping header. I had my reservations about Bassong, but if he plays like this every week he could become the club’s first choice partner for Ledley King, ahead of Woodgate and Dawson.

Ledley King: 8. Bossed Torres from start to finish. He was in great form, though I do always ask the question “what player would he have been without the injury?” whenever I see him play. King had barely trained before the game and yet still kept Fernando Torres quiet. If he didn’t suffer from his chronic knee problem, I think King would be acknowledged as one of the best defenders in Europe, if not the world.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto: 7.5. Scored a stunning goal and played well at left back but was fortunate not to give away two penalties. His goal was the first of his career.

Aaron Lennon: 6. Was kept quiet and never really threatened. Had a good run in the first half but failed to pass or shoot and ended up getting tackled outside the box. If he ever wants to challenge for an England place, he really needs to work on his final delivery.

Luka Modric: 8. Had a good game. Was played on the left but drifted in on occasions and crossed superbly from a free kick for Bassong to head in the winner.

Wilson Palacios: 9. Man of the match. He was a rock in the Spurs midfield but also proved he could attack- pushing forward on a number of occasions. He had a good shot saved and fed the two forwards well and no one can dispute his man of the match award.

Tom Huddlestone: 7. Huddlestone put in an assured performance, but he’s not quite the player I thought he’d become when I saw him play as a youngster. His passing is fantastic, but he needs to get forward more if he is to cement a place in the Tottenham first team.

Jermain Defoe: 6. Was very quiet at times. Didn’t have a load of chances and was kept quiet by the Liverpool defence.

Robbie Keane: 6.5. Did well to get some chances, but should have got on the scoresheet. He wasted a point blank header by heading the ball at Reina and had a one on one effort saved.

Subs:

Peter Crouch (Came on for Keane in the 68th minute) 6. Never got going- he’ll be hoping to do better in future performances.

Jamie O’Hara (Came on for Luka Moric in the 84th minute). 5. Didn’t have much of a chance to impress.

Roman Pavlyuchenko (Came on for Defoe in the 92nd minute) 5. Didn’t have much of a chance to impress.

The Match Preview can be found here, the Match Report here and match statistics here.

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